Friday, December 14, 2012

Geminid Meteor Shower

What a wonderful night of meteor watching!  This year's Geminid Meteor Shower, on December 13-14, has got to be one of the best in a long time.  I set up my camera in my backyard and started shooting around 6:30 p.m. and didn't stop until about 4:30 a.m.  In those 10 hours I shot 1,155 pictures.  I didn't know how many of those images had meteors in them until I got some sleep.  Four hours later, I started going through each one, and I was amazed!  I got 37 meteors, quite a few airplanes and a few tumbling satellites.  Here are a few of the better ones.  Above is a Geminid burning up in the Earth's atmospher at 1:09 a.m., just below the Orion constellation.

This Geminid, at 1:17 a.m., below the bright star Sirius, starts out as a faint streak then explodes into a burst of light (click on the image for a larger view).  This particular meteor shower's debris is from a comet "rock", an asteriod called 3200 Phaethon.  Most showers are from debris streams left over from comets, however, in this case, this comet is dead, but the debris stream is still alive and well.

Here we have the Winter Milky Way between the Geminid and Orion on the right.  Geminids seemingly come from the constellation Gemini, just out of the picture at the top.

At 3:16 a.m., just as clouds started rolling in, a nice bright Geminid streaks at upper left while Orion is exiting at upper right.

This is not a meteor, but a very slow moving and tumbling satellite.  The picture is a combination of eight images.  Each exposure lasted 20 seconds plus 1 second interval, therefore the satellite traveled from top to bottom in 2 minutes and 48 seconds.  The gaps are from the 1 second intervals between ead shot.

Technical Data:
  • Camera: Canon 4Ti on a tripod
  • Lens: Canon 10-22mm f/3.5 (set at 10mm f3.5)
  • ISO: 3200
  • Exposures: 1,555 shots, each 20 seconds
  • AC adapter in place of battery
  • Dew Heater powered from a 110v/12v transformer wrapped around lens for dew prevention
  • Canon Intervalometer for unattended exposures
  • USB connecter from Camera to laptop for automaticlaly downloading images